Thursday, August 30, 2012

Packing Light with a Toddler in Tow

Tonight we are setting off for yet another exciting adventure. This particular adventure is a tad bit different than trips we've taken in the past. We're heading to Mallorca where we'll be spending exorbitant amounts of time worshiping the sun, feeling the sand between our toes, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Exploration of the local towns will be done, if for nothing else to discover the delicious local cuisine; however, unlike our other adventures, this one is a true vacation - or at least that's the plan. Nothing but pure relaxation. The three of us will be joined by two of our closest friends here in Germany, and we cannot wait!

Another difference between this trip and others is that we are flying the infamous Ryanair. You can find ridiculously low fares, which is the reason we are flying to Mallorca this weekend, but they have strict rules, so you have to be wary of carry-on restrictions, boarding pass requirements, and joining the cattle call to find a seat on board. Because of this, we have to take our already light travel habits one step further to be sure we don't get caught owing Ryanair more money for our baggage.

My friend K wrote a brilliant blog a few months ago about how she packs light for her Ryanair excursions. Following her lead, I thought I'd share how we plan what we are going to bring and pack light with a toddler in tow. In all fairness, this beach vacation made it easier for us this time around to keep things light because the weather is forecasting hot temps with little to no rain, and we are staying at a two star bed & breakfast. That makes things slightly easier than packing sweaters and jackets and tennis shoes for colder temps with a lot of walking, or trying to pack stylish clothing for posh city visits and resorts.

We each get one carry-on and the dimensions are really strict. For four days and four nights, this is what we are taking with us:

So, what do we have insidee these three small bags, you ask? Well, for my little man, we still need to pack diapers. (Not sure when to expect that to change, so we'll accept it for now.) My friend, B, gave us a couple of her cloth "swimming diapers" so we could now avoid the need to buy separate diapers for pool-time. This worked out perfectly for this trip. I somehow managed to cram four full days worth of diapers and baby wipes, three pairs of shorts, five t-shirts, two swim trunks, and two cloth diapers for swimming into his small backpack. Phew! We are leaving late tonight to head to a hotel near Frankfurt Hahn airport, so he'll wear his summer jammies, and the outfit for the plane is sitting on top so we can avoid tearing the backpack apart to get to his clothes.

For my end, I packed mostly sarongs, tank tops, and sundresses. Since we don't really have room to bring towels with us and I'm not sure what our towel situation will be like at our small hotel, I figured the more sarongs the better so they can double as towels and cover on the beach. I am bringing one sarong that easily dresses up with a nicer tank top, one sundress that I'll wear on the plane and have available for other outings, and a wrap dress I bought on our honeymoon that I rarely ever get to wear that'll shape itself into about forty different types of dresses. Figured that could come in handy. I threw in a couple more casual sarongs and tank tops into the mix for beach time and wandering around town, and one extra tank for sleeping. Because we are hoping to spend a lot of time on the beach and in the pool, I'm bringing two bathing suits for each of us.

To bring things up a notch when our feet leave the sand for the pavement and we head out to dinners at night, I'm packing a few pieces of jewelry. I kept it simple though, but with a little variety of things that will dress up the sarongs. Things like small pendants, bangle bracelets, fun earings, and the necklace my sister made me. I plan on only bringing my wedding ring mostly because I'm paranoid about losing the others on the beach or having them get stolen. These will all fit carefully into a small cloth bag I can slide into my daypack.

Toiletries are kept to a minimum. In fact, most of what we are bringing is sunscreen. I'm sure we'll be able to buy more there, but I need plenty of it. The last thing we want is a sunburn on our vacation, and this family is as fair as they come, so we will be layering it on thick this weekend. I also packed small shampoos (including baby shampoo for little r) and conditioners and soap because I read that our two-star hotel doesn't provide any. Figured we could try not to smell too much... Tooth brushes, toothpaste, face wash, and face lotion are also necessities, but they don't take up much space. I'm keeping my make-up to a minimum as well, being sure it all fits in my small make-up bag. These items will fit easily into my small daypack leaving more room in the backpack for our clothes.

And finally, traveling with a toddler means we need to bring entertainment and fun snacks along for the plane, the car, the train, meals out at restaurants, and evenings before bed. In addition to a few cars, a coloring book and crayons, and fun snacks, we will also be toting our iPad for much needed movies when little r has had enough (as much as I hate the idea of plopping him down in front of a movie, it's a Godsend more often than not). In fact, our family is an electronic mess of toys and we will certainly be bringing a handful of them on this trip. The iPad, both of our iPhones, my kindle, and Big R's fancy camera will be in tow, as well as, all of the necessary charging devices. I debated for awhile whether we should also bring our Nook because it has all of little r's electronic books on it, but I think I'll pass on that this time around.

All of these things fit nicely into our three bags including Big R's clothes (two pairs of shorts, two polos, a long sleeve light-weight button down shirt, four t-shirts, and underware). I'm still debating whether I will be happy with only bringing one pair of sandals, and also whether I should bring a hoodie or small sweater to wear just in case things get chilly at night or on the plane. These will probably be last minute decisions...

Hopefully we'll end up with everything we need on this trip. We might actually have some space on the way home because we'll have fewer diapers, so some trinkets could come home with us.

I'll have to admit that it has gotten much easier to travel light as little r gets older. No bottles, baby food, or a million changes of clothes is necessary anymore. At this point though, I think practice starts to make perfect and you just figure out how to make it work. You rarely need as much as you think you do, especially when you are traveling to a developed country. One way or another, you can always track down the things you might have left behind. Challenge yourself on your next trip to pack a little less. You'll probably be thankful that you did :)


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